Computational Analysis of Fluid Flow in Pebble Bed Modular Reactor
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High Temperature Gas-cooled Reactor (HTGR) is a Generation IV reactor under consideration by Department of Energy and in the nuclear industry. There are two categories of HTGRs, namely, Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) and Prismatic reactor. Pebble Bed Modular Reactor is a HTGR with enriched uranium dioxide fuel inside graphite shells (moderator). The uranium fuel in PBMR is enclosed in spherical shells that are approximately the size of a tennis ball, referred to as \fuel spheres". The reactor core consists of approximately 360,000 fuel pebbles distributed randomly. From a reactor design perspective it is important to be able to understand the fluid flow properties inside the reactor. However, for the case of PBMR the sphere packing inside the core is random. Unknown flow characteristics defined the objective of this study, to understand the flow properties in spherically packed geometries and the effect of turbulence models in the numerical solution. In attempt to do so, a steady state computational study was done to obtain the pressure drop estimation in different packed bed geometries, and describe the fluid flow characteristics for such complex structures. Two out of the three Bravais lattices were analyzed, namely, simple cubic (symmetric) and body centered cubic (staggered). STARCCM commercial CFD software from CD- ADAPCO was used to simulate the flow. To account for turbulence effects several turbulence models such as standard k-epsilon, realizable k-epsilon, and Reynolds stress transport model were used. Various cases were analyzed with Modified Reynolds number ranging from 10,000 to 50,000. For the simple cubic geometry the realizable k-epsilon model was used and it produced results that were in good agreement with existing experimental data. All the turbulence models were used for the body centered cubic geometry. Each model produced different results what were quite different from the existing data. All the turbulence models were analyzed, errors and drawbacks with each model were discussed. Finally, a resolution was suggested in regards to use of turbulence model for problems like the ones studied in this particular work.
Gandhir, Akshay (2011). Computational Analysis of Fluid Flow in Pebble Bed Modular Reactor. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from